"This is my life, and Ima live how I want to live it."
Dare to Be DMX
Rappers are often much nuanced performers: they can do well in rap, but not much elsewhere. There are, of course, exceptions. Tupac Shakur (more popularly known as 2Pac), for example, dabbled in everything from poetry to acting, all while managing a successful career. And if there was anyone in the industry whose career most closely followed 2Pac's, that someone would be DMX.
In the months after the eventful death of 2Pac in Las Vegas in 1996, the hip-hop and rap industry were looking not for a replacement, but for a new voice. Everyone at the time was looking for some new standard bearer, someone who could give new direction to the genre. And find it they did in DMX.
Coming Out of the Dark
DMX's Top 10
- What's My NameDownload
- Ruff Ryders' Anthem Download
- Where da Hood At Download
- Who We Be Download
- How's It Goin' Down Download
- We Right Here Download
- What These Bitches Want Download
- X Gon' Give It To Ya Download
- Party Up Download
DMX (short for 'Dark Man X') was born as Earl Simmons in 1970. He spent his youth in Yonkers, New York with his abusive family, which led him to strike out very early in his life. DMX was constantly surrounded by poverty and crime while living on the street; he'd often turn to theft himself when food was scarce. However, he turned to rap as an escape from his hard life, and renamed himself 'DMX.'
His early career wasn't all high flying; DMX's first label, Ruffhouse, let him go because of a talent surplus shortly after his signing on in 1992. 1997 saw DMX with another contract, this time from Def Jam, but a solo album was still far off. He bade his time by collaborating with other artists, such as with 24 Hours to Live by Mase and 4, 3, 2, 1 by LL Cool J.
A Dark Man in the Spotlight
Solo success finally came in the form of his 1998 debut album It's Dark and Hell is Hot. It was a gravelly voiced breath of fresh hardcore rap air compared to the pop sound that other big rappers like Puff Daddy were bringing out at the time. This was the same album that carried Ruff Ryders' Anthem, one of DMX's biggest hits. Rap aficionados widely consider this album a classic body of DMX's work.
That same year, DMX also released Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, his sophomore album. But he didn't stop with just releasing two albums in a single year; both albums debuted at #1 on the charts - a feat that had only been done by 2Pac at the time. DMX's subsequent albums - ...And Then There Was X in 1999, The Great Depression in 2001 and Grand Champ in 2003 - also came out at #1 on the charts, making him the first artist with five consecutive albums debut at the top spot.
As a private individual, Earl Simmons has had numerous run-ins with the law ranging from weapons charges to possession of marijuana. Simmons, however, is more multifaceted than he appears.
DMX Does It All
He's not, as his songs might suggest, all rap. DMX, for example, also maintains an acting career on the side with films like Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave. He also pays homage to a religious side; You'll Fly with Me Later, one of his two albums due out 2009, is a gospel album to go with a hardcore rap production.
Did you know that DMX...
- ...was completely unconcerned about the recent presidential race? He didn't even know about Barack Obama until recently!
- ...co-starred in a Steven Seagal movie? Exit Wounds was a blockbuster hit when it was released in 2001.
- ...took his name from an Oberheim drum machine of the same name? The device was popular in the music industry when DMX was just starting out.